Ajax’s visit to the Goffert Stadium, NEC’s home base, was a walk in the park. Ajax posted a seemingly effortless 5-1 win. Bertrand Traoré scored two goals. The other Ajax goals came from David Neres, Hakim Ziyech and Wojcieh Golla (own goal).
With this win, the Ajacieds gained ground on Feyenoord, and, more importantly, increased the pressure. The Rotterdam team will play on Sunday at PEC Zwolle, where several former Ajacieds are now employed. They could do Ajax a favour by giving Feyenoord a sound trouncing. The Ajacieds improved their goal balance in Nijmegen, although it doesn’t look like this will end up having much impact. Feyenoord’s goal balance is +11 better.
Bosz makes changes to the squad
At NEC, Peter Bosz made three changes compared to the midweek match against AZ (4-1). Joël Veltman, suspended on Wednesday, returned to the squad at the expense of Kenny Tete. Daley Sinkgraven and Justin Kluivert were spared, as a precaution. This made space for Neres and Matthijs de Ligt. The latter played a central role on defense, which mean that Nick Viergever was operating from the left flank.
Starring role for Neres
The most outstanding player in the first minutes was no other than Neres. The Brazilian was on a roll in the first half, and played a starring role in the first two goals. After four minutes, he made a sharp pass to Traoré, and it was subsequently sent by NEC player Golla into his own goal. Later on, Neres scored the 0-2 goal himself, his second one in the Eredivisie. Last week, against Feyenoord, he scored his first goal on the Dutch soil.
Neres was remarkable several more times, for example with a beautiful pass on the left wing, but this didn’t lead to any more goals – at least, not by the forward himself. It was Traoré who, after roughly thirty minutes of play, scored the 0-3 goal. It was a fantastic attack, at the end of which Traroé signed the deal with a stunning goal. The African outplayed his opponent from behind and outwitted Joris Delle with a dry low shot. The NEC goalie saved his team from even greater damage shortly before the break. The French player made a feline save on Davy Klaassen’s low shot from the edge of the box.
NEC was unable to bring much to the table in return. Shortly after Neres’ 0-2, a brief period of pressure on Onana followed, with three small opportunities as a result. But otherwise, Peter Hyballa’s line-up lacked bite.
In the second half, the Nijmegen team’s offense picked up steam thanks to the entry of Ferdi Kadioglu. NEC’s great talent injected some excitement into the game after the break. Kadioglu, totally free, received a pass from the left side, without a single Ajacied in his vicinity. Onana, in an attempt to mitigate the danger, came far out of his goal, and Kadioglu made a successful attempt with a high shot. Veltman was unable to stop the goal at the goal line: 1-3.
Traoré makes a strong impression
It was a setback for Ajax, who, just prior, thought that they had scored the 0-4 goal. A goal by Klaassen was disqualified because the ball seemed to have passed the line. After an hour of play, there was once again cheering for the captain. Not as the goal-scorer, but as the assist-maker. Traoré thankfully made the most of this prep work and once again made a strong impression with his good receipt and finishing.
Ziyech’s 1-5 was perhaps the most beautiful of the evening. The star made a beeline through NEC’s penalty kick area, passing three men and ending by outplaying Delle with a punt. Ajax’s margin was four, more than enough to ensure a happy return to Amsterdam and a confident start to preparations for Schalke 04.